Legislative assembly

WA records highest ever daily COVID tally as Parliament faces virus scare

Western Australia has recorded 194 new local cases of COVID-19 as Parliament faces its first virus alert.

The new cases represent the highest daily tally in the state to date and come on top of eight travel-related cases, for a total of 202 new cases.

The figures include 18 self-reported positive rapid antigen tests.

A WA Government spokesperson has confirmed that Labor MP Terry Healy is a close contact with a case of COVID-19.

Labor MP Terry Healy awaits the result of a PCR test.(ABC Perth: Anthony Stewart)

Mr Healy, who sat in Parliament for three days this week, confirmed in a message to the ABC that he underwent a PCR test on Friday morning after finding out he was a close contact.

If Mr Healy’s test comes back positive, other MPs who have come into close contact with him could also be forced into seven days in solitary confinement.

All MLAs wear masks in the Legislative Assembly, except when giving speeches.

The assembly has social distancing measures in place and can only accommodate half of its 59 members in the chamber at a time.

Parliament has also closed the public gallery and dining room capacity is reduced to allow for social distancing.

MPs have also launched a trial of video speeches and calls to the chamber for Question Time.

Katrina pictured on a video feed in the WA House of Parliament
Nedlands MP Katrina Stratton gave the first-ever video address to WA Parliament this week.(ABC News: James Carmody)

Further trials should be conducted to potentially allow members to appear from home if they are forced to self-isolate due to COVID-19.

A total of 9,305 people were tested yesterday in public and private clinics.

No one is currently hospitalized with the virus.

The state’s booster vaccination rates stand at 55.3% of the population over the age of 16, while 98.7% of those over the age of 12 have received at least one dose and 95, 3% received two doses.

Vaccine mandate decision ‘stinks of arrogance’: Opposition

It comes as the opposition WA continued to push for a response at the state border, saying some of the government’s vaccination mandates were “inconsistent” and “vindictive”.

Close-up of a blonde woman with glasses talking to the media
Libby Mettam has accused the Prime Minister of being “drunk on power”.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)

Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said the majority of the eligible population had now received at least one dose of the vaccine and worried about the burden placed on small businesses for police warrants.

“It is vindictive of the McGowan government to impose rules on small businesses, which they do not impose on themselves,” she said.

“Those at Dumas House, in the Prime Minister’s own palace, need not be burdened with the same demands.

“It reeks of arrogance.”

Ms Mettam said many of the rules did not comply with federal health advice.

“What we see is a power-drunk prime minister, who has imposed some of the toughest rounds of restrictions in this state, which are now clearly inconsistent,” she said.

Nurses watching the New South Wales industrial action

Meanwhile, after nurses and midwives went on strike this week in New South Wales to protest wages and working conditions during the pandemic, the WA Nurses Union said that he had received numerous emails from members asking what his position was.

Mark Olsen, Secretary of State for the Australian Nursing Federation
ANF ​​WA secretary Mark Olsen said any industrial action would be up to union members.(ABC News: Nicolas Perpitch)

Australian Nursing Federation WA Secretary of State Mark Olson said that while many frustrations were shared, “we are not going to take any industrial action at this time”.

Mr Olson said future moves would depend on the state government‘s response to issues such as staff shortages and workloads.

“The government has plenty of time to start acting in these areas,” he said.

“I don’t want to get to a stage where we have nurses and midwives leaving work in the middle of a pandemic.”

Mr Olson said any industrial action would be up to union members and would depend on where Omicron’s push went.

“If we can’t get guarantees that the nurses won’t be thrown under the bus, then I think what the nurses will do is pretty obvious,” he said.

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Data shows many older Australians have not had their boosters

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